T he voices of anorexia
almost took my heart and soul. Ten years of my life were governed by the self-destructive voices
of this disorder. At age twenty seven, I began the battle for control over my life.
Though I was a teenager when food and weight became an issue, I had never been happy
as far back as I can recall. As a child,I was painfully sensitive. The world frightened me; people intimidated me.
I took to heart everything others said.My main goal in life was to please; like a chameleon, I'd change to suit whomever
I was with. I always felt I was in the way and became caught up in
my own world to escape this feeling. I spent a great deal of time alone as
M y teen years
were disastrous. Although it is a natural for adolescence to be wrought with
insecurity and confusion-- the focus being on belonging and the acceptance
of peers--I had such issues long before; they simply intensified.
My body bacame a central issue as attention from the opposite sex
increased; I was obsessed with my looks and felt I had found a way to be
accepted. As when I was a child, I was very alone as a teenager,engrossed
in my own thoughts that were becoming increasingly self-deprecating. I was
heavily into drugs and alcohol; they were my comfort. At age fourteen,
I attempted to take my own life.
I became pregnant at seventeen
and gained sixty five pounds; I was devastated. I was humiliated at my size. When my daughter was born, I
immediately began self-starvation and lost my pregnancy weight, and then some, in
three months. Food and weight were taking a strong hold at this point.
At nineteen I had another child and gained the same amount of weight.
Again, I starved it off following the birth of my second daughter. I was
quite proud to lose weight so quickly and was admired by others
for looking so good so soon. At this point, I was consumed with being a mom.
I never thought of myself and was content giving my all to my children.
four-year span between the birth of my second child and my third
was when fat, calories, food restriction, exercise, laxatives, and enemas became the focus of my energy. After the birth of my third daughter,
I was in a downward spiral. My concentration was directed at food. I did
not want to socialize. I was lost in the world of anorexia and had no use
for anyone or anything except my children.
were three defining moments which prompted me to seek help: The first
occured while I was attending my cousin's wedding; I nearly collapsed.
There was a heaviness in my chest; it was difficult to breathe.
I thought I was dying. The second happened when I looked in a mirror
and saw, not a distorted view of myself, but the true sickly-looking
body that was mine. I tried to pass this off, but it haunted me.
The third, and most distressing factor contributing to my seeking help,
was when I began wishing to be alone-no husband and no children.
My children, who had always been my joy, I was now prepared to live without.
Anorexia left no room for others in my life.
A ll things considered,
I sought counseling. Mainly, I sought to prove I did not have an eating disorder. I attended lectures and support
groups held by the Anorexia and Bulimia Association. Although I
listened and did attempt to eat, I found myself falling deeper; I was
extremely depressed and suicidal.
and purging became a new-found practice. Up to this point, I could rationalize
my self-starvation as dieting. Everyone dieted...didn't they? But I could not
rationalize eating until my stomach hurt, then vomiting. I was confused and
ashamed of my behavior. I was desperate to be free from the pain and felt I
had two choices: recovery or death. Death was my first choice; I was tired
of the torture. I was tired of weighing and measuring myself, exercising,
and counting every calorie. I was tired of enemas,laxatives, and not being
able to sit still. I was tired of lying to my husband, family, and friends.
Death would be a welcomed relief. However, I was mother to three young daughters
ages 11, 9, and 3. This posed a dilemma: I wished to die; yet I could not forsake
my role as mother; it was not my nature to hurt others.
I was angered by having to choose between my death(my happiness) or my children's
happiness. I was angered that I really had no choice: I must not hurt my children.
So, I embraced recovery due to the fact I could notdie.
previous methods of therapy were not effective, I entered an eating disorder program
in Miami, Florida in June 1990. My biggest concern at that point was that I would be
thrown out for not being skinny enough. I berated myself for not losing more weight-for not being a better
anorectic.I did not know it at the time, but this was anorexia making an effort to deter me.
M y recovery
involved delving into my past in order to gain knowledge as to how such negativity
came into my life and what circumstances enhanced it. Using this information,
I came to know how anorexia took shape within my life and why I felt I deserved to
suffer. It is important to know the purpose of recollecting the past is not to lay
blame but to find tools to use in recovery.
Stages of My Recovery
- Enormous anger at self and others
- Intense anxiety and agitation
- Outraged at my lack of control
- Terrified my body would blow up
- Mistrustful of the motives of those trying to guide me
- Ashamed that others saw me eat
- Total concentration on food and calories being consumed
- Feared I would not be able to stop eating
- Jealous of other anorexics ability to resist
- Felt I was failing at being an anorexic
- Felt overwhelmed
- Ashamed that I looked forward to eating
- Began to see recovery not as lack of but true, healthy control
- Acknowledged my body was not blowing up
- Recognized those guiding me were doing so to see me happy and healthy
- Reality struck as to who I would be if not an anorexic
- Realized I had no sense of self (A TURNING POINT in MY RECOVERY)
- Allowed myself to feel!
- Separated feelings from food
- Allowed myself to cry and otherwise be vulnerable in front of others
- Admitted I was hungry to fellow patients (I received a standing ovation at breakfast!)
- Began to trust others' view of me
- Saw myself in a more positive light
- Anorexia's voice was weakened
S ince recovery is a long process,
I proceeded slowly from one stage to another. There were no overnight revelations, only
glimpses of healthy thoughts that I could choose to heed or ignore. By no means were these
the only stages of recovery. Anorexia held a tight grip for so many years; it fought
desperately to keep me from destroying its superiority. As it did, I found myself
up against new battles each day.
T wo years after entering into recovery,
I found myself free of anorexia's grip. Its voices were banished. I was happy to be alive.
No longer fearful and preoccupied, I experienced life! I'd missed so much; everything was
exciting! I enjoyed colors again!(I had previously surrounded myself with blacks, browns, and beiges). Once I came
to the conclusion I was an important, lovable, deserving human being,
I began exploring who Marcia was. I discovered a wonderful person was living in my body this entire time!
I t has been eighteen years
since I boarded a plane to Miami. Anorexia has long since been buried. I wake each
day loving who I am and making healthy decisions for myself.
I may accomplish many things in my life, but no achievement will come close to my recovery.
I endured tortuous days and nights fighting this illness. At times I thought
I would lose my mind, but I prevailed. I took control and won for myself a full and happy
life. I won freedom!